Awesome Fathers And Average Husbands

Some 25 years ago: Daily routine

The landline would ring sharp at 7 pm. I would run to the phone.

Me: Hello

Dad:  Hello!! Mummy se poocho kuch lana hai kya?

Me: Mummy Papa ka phone hai! Kuch lana hai!

Mom: Nahi.

Me yelling at the top of my voice even though  my mother would be at a very audible distance: Nahiii

Dad: Ok beta.

Me: Bye Papa. See you soon.

Sometimes my mom would take the phone and tell my dad what to bring. Most of the times he already knew what to get and the call was just a formality.  But he used to get something or the other. No I am not talking about groceries or necessary supplies. He would get doughnuts, pastries, cream rolls, all good things that would light up my face. Whenever he would come home from office I would run to him and cling like a monkey knowing that there would be some surprise for us.

And he continues to do that.  He would go for a walk and end up bringing jalebi and samosa for my mother. My sister is married now, and my niece will turn 10 soon. Still, dad continues to be the Santa Claus who will get us surprises – clothes, shoes, gadgets you name it.

My mother never has to answer that question, ‘Kuch lana hai?’

I remember I used to go to my best friend, Priyanka’shouse as a kid. Her father also was very affectionate like my father. Her mother would cook nice food for us and then Uncle would take us for ice-cream. Those days nobody kept ice cream at home because power cuts would ruin it all. Ice- cream parlous were not that popular yet in small towns. Some random shops like stationery shops kept ice -cream  as a side business! But the easiest way to get ice-cream was to just drive on the road until you find some hawker .

After having lunch at my friend’s place her dad would ask if we want anything more. My friend and I would giggle. I was too shy to ask because I was a well-mannered child and I knew that I cannot ask other people’s parents to buy me stuff. But Uncle also knew and my friend also knew and I also knew that our routine would not be complete without ice-cream. ‘Something is missing’, Uncle would say. Then he would take us both on his scooter until we would hear the familiar scream from a distance. “KAAWAALEETEEEEE”.

We never had to ask Uncle.

The same friend is married now. Before marriage she used to feel she had the best boyfriend. Now things are very different. She called me the other day.

“Tanvi! I ran out of salt yesterday! I asked Aditya to get it. He came back without it! He said he forgot!  When I told him, how will I  make dinner without salt, he said I always ask last minute. I should buy extra and keep. How much am I supposed to remember!! He can also keep track, right!”

“Yes. He can. He should!”

“What are you up to? Want to meet today?”

“Today I have to go buy running shoes! Papa has been saying that the ones I use are not good enough and will give me leg ache. Need more cushioning. I told him It is fine. He has done some research online and wants to buy that for me.”

“I am having back-pain since two months. Aditya keeps saying it is all in your head!! Everybody who works on laptop has back ache! Aise thode hi na hota hai!”

“Are I will come with you to the doctor. Book an appointment.”

“I know you will. But he should na! Remember when I had got sick in 5th grade? Daddy had taken me to three doctors just to rule out typhoid?”

“Haha! Yes I remember that. He wanted a third, fourth opinion!”

“That time we never thought na Tanvi, these things cost money. I used to tell Daddy why are you making me take all these tests again! ……..

Aditya would have said what is the need! These hospitals are a scam. Don’t waste money!”

“Aaj itna gussa kyun aa raha hai Aditya pe!”

“I don’t know why I am so angry. Just that you know… how Daddy used to care for us. We never realized then na….”

I had to cut the call soon. I went shopping and bought running shoes.  My dad also insisted that my mother buys new ones. Now unlike our generation which never has enough clothes my mother is someone who will always say she doesn’t need anything! She looked at the sneakers’ price and insisted that her current shoes are pretty good. My dad started explaining to her how she should buy  shoes which are good for her ankles . While he was trying to convince her and getting all technical about pressure etc, I paid which made my dad upset because he wanted to buy the shoes for me. He then bought two T shirts and track pants for me as he said there should be new clothes to go with the new shoes!

I came back home and called Priyanka. I knew she was upset. This time she didn’t say much. We both just talked about how much our dads care for us.  It is not just about spending money to buy us stuff. But about identifying a need – My daughter  needs this. Or maybe she doesn’t need it. But it would be better for her to have it. How can I make her life easier? How can I bring a smile to her face? How can I make her happy? Do husbands / boyfriends care so much? Maybe they do but sometimes they will weigh the cost. Or they are too lazy to drive. Or they feel we are adults anyway, and we want equality plus pampering! Plus we cannot cook like their moms! Yet we expect so much from them! How unfair.

Relax boyfriends / husbands. This is not something we talk about .

It is just a feeling.

 

Image source

 

 

Who Took Away My Confidence?

Dear Tanvi,

Would you be interested in moderating a panel discussion? We would be discussing how women are enjoying outdoor spaces.

Me?

Moderating?

I felt a slight fluttering in my stomach. I drank some water.

____________________________________________

At the age of 5 – Somewhere in a convent school in Patna

Mother looks at her daughter’s quiz answer sheet. 8/10. Match the following.

Question – Something to keep you dry in the rain

Answer written by the little girl: Ren cot.

It is marked wrong.

Mother: Beta, here you had to match the description in the left side with the options on the right side. Rain coat was not in the options. It was umbrella.

Little girl: Ma’am forgot to put ren cot. That is why I wrote it.

Mother: This was not Fill in the blanks. This was matching. Read the question properly.

Little girl: Maybe Ma’am does not have ren cot. Now she knows.

At the age of 9 – Same school in Patna

State level debate competition

And the winner is Tanvi Sinha….

The mother and the father are beaming, clicking pictures.

At the age of 11 – Same school in Patna

Teacher: Tanvi, we are recommending your name for representing our school at the Interschool Quiz competition, Manthan. It will be aired on local television after two weeks.

Girl: Ma’am! On  TV! If I don’t do well, everyone will make fun of me!

Teacher: Opportunity is knocking at your door. And you are saying no? You think we are asking all the students? We are asking only the toppers. You must go Tanvi. Prepare well. Give it your best shot.

The girl was terrified at the thought of failing on television. She backed out.

At the age of 13 – Junior high school in New York City

The teenager raises her hand to answer a question. She has just started talking. There is a giggle. Someone mocks her accent.

Teacher: Let her talk. Than Vee, go ahead.

The teenager becomes quiet.

It was not worth going through this humiliation. She decided never to raise her hand again.

At the age of 15- PTA Meeting. Creative writing class. High school in New York city

The father is dressed in a black suit and tie. Mother is wearing trousers and a blazer. They are at their formal best. They enter with  their gawky teenage daughter.

Teacher: Oh Tanvi is a gift! She is awesome. She has great story telling skills. She is logical with her thoughts, and articulates her thoughts very well. Her grammar is perfect. I just have one area of improvement for her.

Teenager replies meekly with a smile: Class participation!

Teacher: Yes! I would like you to participate more in the class discussions. You never say a word! And when I read your assignments, I am mesmerized. Imagine if you would say all of that in class!

Teenager: Yes. I know. I can write very well. But when I talk I feel conscious.

Teacher: Don’t be. With your intelligence, you cannot say anything wrong.

At the age of 23 – Mumbai at home

Click here to see the CA Final Results. Enter Registration number.

FAIL

As tears streamed down her cheeks, she wondered.

I was never the beautiful one.

I was never the popular one.

All I was ever, was the intelligent one.

I am not even that anymore?

Who am I?

She passed the exam a year later.

At the age of 24.. At an official training. Banquet hall of a 5 star hotel

She is sitting in the last round table. She is not making any eye contact with the trainer, afraid he may ask a question.  At the same time she is nodding, pretending to listen.

This is so boring. He mugged up all this stuff! What if I had to be the trainer? Nah.. they would never ask me. Imagine if the training was about something I knew. Or something I was good at. Then I would be the star. But what am I  good at…… There has got to be something… Think…think. Yeah. Bollywood! If there was a Bollywood training I could totally take it… One session could be on songs. With a quiz. Guess the movie from the song. I could also do a session on Bollywood relationships. Guess – Who was Riya Sen’s grandmother…
Name three sister duos from Bollywood. Yeah… I would totally rock it.

Same age. A random office lunch

Someone made a joke. Everybody laughed. The woman barely listened. She is lost in her thoughts as always.

“Tanvi did not laugh.” – Guy 1.

“She did not understand the joke.” – Someone else

“Don’t talk like that. She will get angry.” – Someone else.

“Is she angry? I can’t tell! She is so expressionless!!! Tanvi make an angry face!”

He has a hearty laugh.

At the age of 26. She qualified as a CA 2 years ago. Working in a reputed firm. Year-end appraisal.

Four people are looking at her like hawks in a conference room. One by one they start talking. About how she has not achieved the goals. How she is good for nothing. How she is a big, miserable failure.

She listens. In the beginning she tries to defend herself. But then she gives up.  She wants them to stop talking. But no. They want to make sure it is CLEAR to her, point by point. Every word is a dagger. It pierces through her heart, her soul and her being.

Don’t start crying here. Be dignified. At least control yourself till you reach the washroom.

Present day.

Who took away her confidence?

Was it those bullying kids?

Was it failure in a professional exam which is known to be so difficult?

Was it people from work?

From a little girl who was confident even when she was wrong, she had grown up to be a nervous woman who felt she was wrong even when she was right. Who gave the right to every person to take away her confidence. Who trusted others’ belief of who she was, more than who she knew she was.

____________________________________________

She read the email again.

Dear Tanvi,

Would you be interested in moderating a panel discussion? We would be discussing how women are enjoying outdoor spaces

Opportunity is knocking at your door. She remembered her elementary school teacher’s words.

With your intelligence, you would never say anything wrong. She remembered her high school teacher’s words.

Yes. She typed. Send.

Beyond the doors. Bangalore. March 9th, 2018

I reached the venue. A little nervous. A little unsure of myself. But super excited.

A woman with the sweetest face and the most contagious smile was talking.  She was not trying to inspire anyone. She was talking logically. She was talking about herself and her experiences. Smooth, natural flow of thought. She was just being herself. But the audience was mesmerized. And so was I.

Somebody asked her how come she is so positive all the time? Does she think about dark clouds?

“Why should I think of the dark clouds when I can think about the light clouds. This is me!” – She said flashing that beautiful, confident, ravishing smile matter-of-factly.

She was Dhanya Ravi.

I was overwhelmed with emotion. That one line uplifted my spirits.

This is me…..

 I am Tanvi. I  get nervous when I have to speak in public. My stomach hurts. My palms get sweaty. I tremble. This is me!

I say Umm and You know after every word. This is me!

I will roll my tongue over my teeth, while I am still talking to you to check if my lipstick has spread over my teeth. This is me!

I may mess up this discussion. But it is okay. This is me!

I had a great session. Enjoyed every moment of it. Loved talking to such accomplished women. The smiles, the nods, and the claps from the audience gave me a high.

Who gave me back my confidence?

Dhanya Ma’am, you have written in your profile, ‘All good things come in a small package.”

But let me tell you this Ma’am. You are not small.

You are bigger that our insecurities and our egos.

You are bigger than our inner demons and inner battles that we struggle with every day.

You are bigger than our shallow concerns and problems which actually do not matter, but we are too full of ourselves to believe it.

You are bigger than all of us who love feeling like victims, the moment the smallest thing goes wrong in life.

You are bigger than the people who try to make others feel small just so that they can feel big.

You are bigger than any person I have ever met in my life.

I love you Ma’am. You have made me wiser. In one day!  I have gained my confidence back after years.  I promise myself that I will never let anybody take away my confidence again.

Image source

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kitchen: The Permanent Residence Of So Many Women We Know..

Yesterday I came across something in my News feed that infuriated me:

A restaurant named ‘Second wife restaurant’. Quoting from their website:

“Second Wife is one of the fastest growing food tech companies in Bangalore. For great food and good times. Second Wife cooks like your wife and may be better than your wife also. Experience our taste and quality of our food a wide range of vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies with distinct aroma and flavour achieved by carefully blending a host of spices and condiments.”

Assumption : Sole purpose of a woman is to cook for her husband!!

Men, if you want warm, home-cooked food spend some money and get a cook!! Not a wife.

Women of this generation probably manage to get some help. If not someone who cooks all meals, then maybe some one who helps in chopping, slicing, dough making extra.

But what about the generation of our mothers? How much of their time have they spent in the kitchen?

My mother loves cooking. She is awesome at it too. I have tried to keep cooks unsuccessfully. Sometimes, she doesn’t like their hygiene, or taste, or timing. She stands in the kitchen throughout while the cook works directing her. She says if she is standing in the kitchen, observing and instructing a cook, might as well do it herself!  She also says that the time she spends waiting for her, she can be done by then. Also, even with a cook, most nice things which she would prefer to cook herself!

I on the other hand, can let go completely. Being a lazy person, I can comfortably sit and do nothing, while the cook does her job. As long as she washes her hands, washes vegetables, rice properly I am okay with compromising on the taste. Because in return, I get my time! And it is worth it! I would rather spend that time reading, writing, jogging, gymming, watching Netflix or even doing nothing!

I cook once in six months / three months. When there are guests over. Or when I try out a new recipe from the internet. When I have the time. When I have nothing better to do.  No matter how well I cook, or how great it turns out the maximum that can happen is someone will eat well and say, “Very nice!”

To do it every day, from scratch, for a lifetime is just too much!. Whether you can afford help but you still choose to cook (or even if you don’t have an option) it is something that you do all the time with a  lot of time and effort!! 

I remember having a barbecue party at my cousin’s place in Singapore. We had ordered some continental chicken appetizer. My mother and aunt had mixed their Indian spices along with that chicken and managed to make an awesome biryani out of it on a very short notice!

Once biryani was served, we started eating without even bothering to say that it was good! We, however had not failed to applaud the men who had set up the barbecue! After some time, when my Bhabhi started eating after feeding her kid, she said how nice the biryani  was.  My aunt said “Oh thank God! No one was saying anything I was wondering how it came out. I was looking at Tanu’s face, when she took the first bite..”

Sometimes my mother tries a new recipe, spends an awful lot of time on it and gives it to me in my tiffin I love it. I think of texting her but I forget because I am busy at work. Sometimes even once I reach home I forgot to say anything. Sometimes I remember only when she asks. The amount of effort and time that goes in procuring the supplies, planning, cooking! Oh God! And thankless children don’t even remember to acknowledge!

Men often say things like “Mera bhi credit hai, mutton main laaya, wash kiya etc” or some variation of that. And we find it cute also. Lazy, annual cooks like me get a lot of attention for their one time special recipe!

But the ones who do it, all the time it is really a VERY difficult thing to do on a daily basis, for a lifetime! Nobody will say to you everyday that the roti, chawal, daal, was good.

I know the post started out bashing the expectation that women should cook. But let me end it with gratitude for the ones who do it every day of their life! Thank you, mom, aunts, grand moms, sister, cousins and everyone else who does it! I am sure you are not thanked enough!!

 

 

 

 

Would You Choose Passion Over Stability?

I keep hearing the story of an older family friend.

He must be in his 80’s now. He has never been married. As per the legend, he used to be a handsome man in his youth. Romantic. Desirable. Rumour has it that he looked just like like Rajesh Khanna.

He wanted a “love marriage.” Whenever any “ladki walas” came home for a rishta, he would pretend to limp. Or something else.  He was filmy. He was very clear that he would not compromise on his partner.

Years went by. The perfect one never came along. There were some rumours of an alleged brief fling with another lady who also never married.  He remained single.

He is currently in an old age home. His siblings’ children do visit him. His story has been passed on to my generation by parents as an example of what happens when you are too dreamy! You end up alone!

“You marry while you can!” is what elders tell us. Or even older cousins who married someone without falling in love. I do not want to make this post about arranged marriage vs love marriage. I have written enough about it.

Would you marry someone who are not even attracted to, or have a connection with because he can provide you a stable life?

Or would you marry someone with whom you have a spark yet you are unsure of stability in the future?

What if you don’t even have the second option yet. Would you wait? Or would you go ahead with a secured life?

We have not seen the future. Someone who seems stable today may not be so in the future. So what are you left with then?

And if you marry for “love”, then well if the love doesn’t last?

Can chemistry be developed over time?

But should it be so forced? Isn’t it easier when you already have it?

Elders love to say “You should marry someone who likes you. Not someone who you like.” I think only Indian elders say this!! Is it too much to ask that BOTH should like each other?

I remember talking to a friend of mine who is older than me. She is also a practising counselor. One of the girls was complaining that she was being pressurized for an arranged marriage. But she did not find the guys her parents were seeing for her interesting. But the guy she was seeing was not interested in marrying her. My counselor friend said to her, “You are looking for a man who can be a friend, plus you should have chemistry, plus commitment, all in one person!”

“Well, isn’t that what a relationship is supposed to be?” I immediately jumped to her rescue.

Ideally yes. But it may not happen. You have to pick what matters most to you.”

The answer is never so simple. People who have been married will tell you what matters. Or even what is missing.

Just a thought. A random one.

Source

 

 

 

 

 

Hey Darling! Hey Gorgeous! Why not replying?

Okay.

All women probably received messages from unknown men on Facebook.  I usually block the ones who send inappropriate messages.  But off late I have noticed young boys sending messages.  When I click on their pictures, they look so innocent. They look like they are easily 10 years younger than me! Maybe even more. Some of them are probably in school or college. Minors!  They send the following kind of messages:

Hey darling!

Hey gorgeous!

Why you are not replying!

I really like you!

What happened?

Reply please!

Did I do something wrong!

One young man had sent a poem also. It was accompanied by a picture of a man literally taking out his heart on his hand. Jaan hatheli par le aaye? Please note that it was not a cute red heart shaped emoticon that we send on whatsapp. It was a picture of a heart – the organ oozing out of a body with blood!! The poem had rhymes. I thought at least I should give him credit for that. Until one of my friends who read it said it was copied from a regional movie.

Had they been older, I would have ignored and blocked.  It is too late to educate the older ones! But I don’t think it is right to give up on the younger boys.  Boys who probably do not even have the guts to talk to me in person, look me in the eye, or would probably call me Didi if at all they did talk to me in person, think it is okay to address me as darling!

I had a discussion with few male friends on this. They said that these boys are trying their luck. They probably send these messages to so many women every day and they may get a response too. They also said that these boys are perfectly aware that they should not be behaving this way. But they don’t care. They do it anyway.

One of the thoughts that stayed with me was ‘Did I do something wrong? Tell me please.’

The 17-18 year old probably does not know that it is NOT okay to address an unknown woman on the internet as ‘gorgeous’. He thinks it is a compliment. Something I would like. I would appreciate. Be flattered. He has not chosen a term like ‘sexy’ or ‘hot’. He has gone far in his vocabulary  to choose a respectful term.

Can we blame him for asking me if he has done anything wrong?

I want to ask him had I approached me in person? Would he come to me in a public place or on the street and tried to talk to me with an opening line of ‘Hi beautiful’. I want to tell him that he should not speak to women on the internet in a way any different from how he would speak to them in person. But we all know that does not happen. Every one has a voice on the internet. Every one hides behind anonymity. And what do we teach this boy about approaching women in person anyway? It is not like he would be used to ‘asking women’ out. Dating is not part of our culture. His only benchmark would be Bollywood which would have taught him:

Hasi to phasi

Ladki ki naa mein haa hai

Lover boy will always win. As long as he keeps trying. The means do not matter. The end does. Whether he stalks. Or threatens. Or tries to commit suicide. At the end the woman will realize his ‘true love’.

I remember talking to a man who from the US. He must be around 55. His son who was about 15 had started dating. He was telling me that the son is very much ‘in love’ with his girlfriend. He used to invite her over to his place along with other school friends. He said he talks to his son about how to treat his girlfriend. That he should respect her. He said his son had written a poem for the girl. This man never knew his son was interested in writing. He was proud of his son.  Father would tell his son about his girlfriend when he was that age and how he used to ask women out by inviting them to events that they were interested in so that they could not resist!

‘I have taught my boy right!’ he said proudly.

We have not taught our boys right. We have to accept it. Rather, this is something we have not taught at all!. No mature adult – teacher, parents, etc will talk to them about dating, approaching women etc. It is not because people don’t date in our country. They are on their own. At the mercy of Bollywoord and other immature friends. We don’t think it is appropriate to talk about it. We think if we talk about it we would encourage it. We don’t realize that they would do it anyway.  As much as we would like to deny.

Coming back to the boy who sent me the message this one is for you:

A woman who you don’t know may choose not to speak to you. It does not mean she is arrogant. It does not mean you are ugly. She doesn’t even know you.  You messaged. She ignored. Move on.

Even though it is a compliment addressing unknown women as ‘gorgeous’ may not be the best way to start a conversation.  If you know her, and you are already friends with her you can probably compliment her. ‘Darling’ again should not be used for unknown women. Ever!

What you say, how much you say, depends on the response you receive. It is not rocket science to figure it out.  No response. Stop. She responds in a friendly way. Continue. She doesn’t like something you say. Stop. Apologize.

There are women who have public profiles on social media. But it is mainly for their work to have a connect with their target audience. It does not necessarily mean that she has put her pictures for attention, and then when you give her that attention, she is being all arrogant!

Lastly, most importantly. Don’t keep trying. If someone is not responding to your messages, it means they are not interested. Respect the choice. She does not even owe you an explanation. It does not mean that you should feel insulted. Women have brains too. And thinking and decision-making capabilities.  They have their own likes. It does not make you a loser.  Please do not associate your self-worth with the responses you get from women – in the virtual world or in the real world! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year! A Time Of Gratefulness And New Beginnings

Wish you all a very Happy New Year!!

I feel New Year’s eve is the most overrated time of the year. We feel that we MUST do something. If we don’t, we feel we are missing out on all the fun.  When we plan a party, or vacation everything is overpriced, and may not even be worth it! Then there are safety concerns with people going crazy on alcohol.

For single people, the holidays and New Year’s eve is quite a downer! Torturous may be. It is depressing to see so many lights, love, brightness, buzz, life around which only further brings out the emptiness in your own lives, or memories of better days that are now over. No matter what you do – quiet, house party or loud pub party the connection that you long for with another human being is still missing!  Been single for long, became single recently, not single last year but found yourself single this year? I don’t know which time of the year is toughest for singles – birthdays, valentine’s day or new year’s. I would say, Christmas holidays till New years.

I know some of you were feeling very low during this time. I received messages.  Hope you are feeling better now. I was also feeling low little after Christmas. It was mainly because I was missing my niece who was visiting the week before.

I was not at home around the New Year’s time. I was out and my grandmother (who is very old and forgets a lot) kept asking my parents for me every time she heard any sound. Even when someone moved a chair. She did not realize how long I was gone or whether I had been out for a day or two. Whether it was a holiday or I was at work or sleeping or just locked up inside my room. She just knew she had not seen me for what seemed to her like a while (she does not have much track of time) and was asking for me again and again.

I remember showing one of my childhood photos with my grandmother to my best friend, a few years ago who lived in the US.. She had lived there all her life. She was not in touch with her father’s side of the family who lived in her home country. And her grandmother from her mother’s side had passed away. In the picture, I had just started walking, and my grandmother was pointing towards me and beaming.

“Wow,” she said. “She has loved you for so long!” I was about 20 at that time. When she said this, I had realized how lucky I was to be loved by my grandmother. It is one of those things we take for granted.

Coming back to the present, when I finally came home after New Year’s I gave a big hug to my grandmother. Her face lit up. Looking at her, and her eagerness to meet me, an image flashed before my eyes. Of a grandfather who lost his 28-year-old granddaughter in the fire in Mumbai. She was celebrating her birthday.  I could not read the article and had put the paper away. But the picture I could not forget. God can be so cruel?

The fire tragedy in Mumbai was unbelievable and cruel. My office used to be in Kamala Mills about seven – eight years ago.  I don’t know why nothing changes in our country. The families of the victims of Uphaar tragedy, and the Carlton Towers fire have dedicated their lives to working for fire safety. I have been following their work. Still, human life is not precious here. One preventable accident after another.. There were other horrible incidents around the country too around which I would not get into..

With so many negative feelings and mixed thoughts, I was pretty sure I will have a crappy new year’s. But to my biggest surprise, I ended up having a great time. Probably one of the best in recent times. Something I had not expected in the days before. It was like a roller coaster ride from very low to very high.  If I can sum up my thoughts, I would say this:

Be grateful for everything.  Cherish what you have. You don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Life can change any moment.

Keep hope.  Good things will happen. Bad days will not go on forever. You don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Life can change any moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas And Happy Holidays!

The holidays are a time of celebration.

But it is also the time that hurts…

For not everybody is with their family.

For some may have lost someone this year.

Someone may be alone.

Someone is learning to live without someone.

Someone’s family is incomplete today.

Someone’s landscape of life has changed.

But the holidays are also a time for hope.

Of happiness, prosperity and peace

For we are all so brave,

Through our struggles and fears.

 Another year is coming.

I hope this year that awaits you,

Is better than the year that was.

Merry Christmas to you,

And to everyone you care for.

 

 

 

Shashikala – The Unknown Feminist

For the past few minutes the doorbell was incorporated as part of my dream. Finally, after it rang for some time, I realized it is not a dream and I need to get up and open the door.

Shashikala walked in.

“Goodmorning Didi.” She said in her usual chirpy voice.

“Hmm.” I replied coldly. She had not come to work the day before. I was giving her the silence treatment.

“Didi, I will make chicken for you today,” she said trying to lure me with my favourite food.

“No need! There is a lot of leftover from yesterday!” I gave a cold reply again.

“Ok Didi!”

The silent treatment did not seem to be working. She either did not understand I was mad or she did not care. I broke my cold war and blurted out:

“Look at all those dirty dishes! I had guests over yesterday! And you just ditched me! I had told you not to take an off for these two days! Your work is the last priority for you. You took an off to look after your friend!! She does not have anyone? You have to disrupt your work to attend to her?”

“No Didi.  She is not my friend.”

“Oh so what neighbor? Stranger! Even better! You come to work only after you have solved all of humanity’s problems.”

“She is his first wife….”

Shashikala was married off when she was about 18. Her husband was abusive. He used to take all her money for alcohol and beat her up.  In the next five years, she had two sons until one fine day he just left.  After a couple of years he showed up again, asking for his children.  Shashikala refused to give them up. He told her he is doing well in life and would be in a better position to support the kids. She said she does not want to live with him.  A compromise was made. The husband took her elder son. She kept the younger one.

A kind aunt of hers thought that it is time she remarried.  The prospective groom was okay with having her son around. So Shashikala agreed. Once the marriage was solemnized, she was in for another shock. This man was already married, something she had no idea about.  The first wife was still living there.  Shashikala left him and came back with her son.

Now, she lives with her younger son. The elder son (who is with his father) is in a hostel and he visits her sometimes. Both the husbands show up at her house once in a while to create some drama!

Her story came flashing back in my mind.

What happened to her!” I asked her. The anger was now replaced with curiosity.

“He came the night before to eat. He said that she has not been keeping well so there is no one to cook for him. You know he is very selfish Didi. He did not even take her to the doctor. She was in pain. So I went there. Took her to the hospital. Got her the medicines. Cleaned her house. And cooked some food.”

“Why do you care so much about her?”

“Unknowingly I did her wrong Didi! I married her husband and hurt her! This is the least I can do.”

I read a lot of articles online. The latest trend is romanticizing cheating. I have seen a lot of reputed publications publish articles on cheating and how it is all about “being in the moment”, “living your life”,  “love and sex are different things”, “it just happens” and other such excuses. When I express my disgust in the comments some cool people respond,“Why are being so judgmental”, “To each to his own”. It seems we have no idea how to be progressive.

Here is a woman who did not exactly have a smooth life. One bad marriage is enough to break a person. She had two! It could have been convenient for her to bitter. But she chose not to. She had self-respect. She did not take back her first husband when he came back. She left the second husband the moment she found out he is already married.

But these things did not change who she is as a person. It did not change the kindness within her. The kindness that made her feel the physical and emotional pain of another woman.

Yes, good women uplift other women. They hold their head high in times of turmoil. They do not let the unhappiness in their lives change their judgment, and conscience.

Shashikala, you are a feminist to me.  You may not get any recognition.  But you have taught me one thing:

We are who we are. No matter what happens in life, there is no excuse to cause someone pain. There is no reason to not live by our principles.

 

The Little Girl Who Won

“Mumma, when I receive the award, should I walk up the stage from the left or from the right? Both side has stairs.” Asked a very enthusiastic five-year-old girl dressed as a dhoban (washerwoman).

“Any side, beta”, reassured the mother, looking tensed.

She got a call from her husband. “How Is she doing? Competition over?” asked the father on the other line.

“Contest is over. She did well. But I am worried because she is so confident she will win! She is asking me which stairs she should go up from! I hope she wins something. She will be too disappointed otherwise!”

“It is okay. I have bought her that doll set anyway. If she wins, it is her prize. If she does not, it will cheer her up.”

Few minutes later, the little girl walked up from the right side to win the first prize award in the fancy competition. Her mother clapped proudly, relieved.

It has been 25 years since then. But the scene was pretty similar this Saturday at the Orange Flower Awards for which the girl who is now a grown-up woman had traveled with her mother. The woman’s father was texting, this time on the family whatsapp group.

“Any updates? Keeping fingers crossed.” The father texted with a folded hands emoticon.

“Programme has started.” replied the mother.

“Keep us updated.”

The grown up woman was sitting with two of her blogger friends. Her mother was sitting behind her with her friend’s mother (who is also a blogger). Her mother was initially sitting on the aisle seat. But as more crowd poured in, she had to move in. Now she was all the way in the corner.

If I win, she will not be able to take any decent pictures from that corner…. The woman thought to herself.

She turned around to look at her mother. She wanted to ask her to get up and click a picture in case she did win.

But she was not  that presumptuous five-year-old anymore!! The little girl who was so confident of herself was now a grown-up woman. A woman who was afraid she will jinx it if she says something. A woman who is scared of good things. A woman who feels that if something nice happens to her, something bad will happen to balance it out. A woman who struggles to fight off her inner demons and negative thoughts.

The woman won. The father was updated on whatsapp. He updated his entire contact book. Even people who do not know his daughter writes. The mother managed to take a video from her corner seat. Without any sound though! She had lowered her phone’s volume for the event (something she regrets) because in her own words, ‘Tumhare baare mein kitna achcha bola tha , woh record nahi hua.”

The woman was very happy. She will try to write better. But most importantly, she will try her best to be that free-spirited little girl again.

I won three awards this year. But this post is not just about me. I would like to dedicate this post to everyone reading this, please pursue your dreams. Don’t be afraid. Don’t think about 100 things that will stop you. Don’t expect any success. Just do it! When you do something you like, everything falls in place.

You Don’t Make Money!!Chalo, Dil Behel Jata Hai!

“So, you get paid for writing blogs?”

“No,” I tried to respond with a polite smile.

“But bloggers get ads, no.”

“I don’t have advertisements on my blog. In fact, I have to pay for the hosting space and domain name.”

“Oh! So, it is just a hobby!”

“I have a full-time job. So yes. But not really. It is more of a passion.”

“Oh! Even I have a full-time job. But I am also into real estate broking. I make as much money through it as my job. Thankfully, my hobby pays! Some people have useless hobbies. My wife, she likes to apply mehendi designs for her friends during karwachauth, weddings etc. She does it for free!! I choose my hobbies wisely.” He said with a wink.

This arrogant gentleman undermined my work in seconds by referring to it as a “useless hobby”. I don’t blame him because for some people everything is measured in terms of money.

It reminds me of another conversation I had online with two of my blogger friends . One is a brilliant dancer and writer, who conducts dancing classes for children. A gentleman told her that she does “good time-pass”.  Another blogger friend writes wonderful articles on diverse topics. Someone told her, “Good, now that the kids are off from home, at least you have something to do!”

I am not angry. I know it is not a big deal. I just feel sorry for people who do not understand that something non-materialistic can also give happiness.

If money could give happiness, so many rich people would not be depressed.  I know a lot of creative people who do not make much money out of their pursuits be it – writing, dancing, painting, singing, acting, photography or even gardening, baking, nail art, mehendi design, make-up, cooking etc. But they still do it. With their heart. Because it feeds their soul. It provides meaning to their lives – something beyond jobs, money, things, and relationships.

So, Mr. Materialistic Moron, before you disregard my hobby or your wife’s hobby as “useless”, please  get out and meet more people. Learn more about human behavior, psychology and spirituality. Understand why people do the things they do. Maybe it gives them happiness, something money cannot buy.

My writing is what keeps me sane on days when I feel I will fall into pieces.

The little interactions that I have with my readers through likes, comments and shares is sometimes so much more comforting that my conversations with people I meet.

My writing has made me a better human being, because I try  to put myself in the characters I write about.

You my ignorant friend, have not even learnt to respect people.

 

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